Just Good Enough: OSU defeats WSU 66 to 55 to go to .500 in Pac-12 play

Pac-12 leading scorer Roberto Nelson led the way against Washington State with 26 points - Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports

In an important game for the Oregon State men's basketball team, the Beavers were able to play just well enough in not one of their better wins. But when the final buzzer went off, the score was 66-55, and it still was a crucial win for the Beavers as they go to .500 in Pac-12 play.

To try and build on the momentum they had against the Oregon Ducks last Sunday the Beavs started the same five with Roberto Nelson, Langston Morris-Walker, Hallice Cooke, Eric Moreland, and Angus Brandt.  The Washington Cougars initially came out a bit sharper to take an early 2 to 0 lead off some sloppy OSU play, but the Beavs took advantage of strong in the paint play by Brandt to tie it up, and after making a strong defensive play Brandt helped OSU take their first lead at 4 to 2 at the 17:44 mark.

Roberto Nelson later breaks a 4 to 4 tie with a typical Nelson three point bomb from well beyond the arc, which in many ways helped settle down the Beavs who started to make sharper passing plays and pound the ball on the inside.  Washington State though was able to later creep back into the game with some sloppy passing by the Beavs around the midpoint of the half.   Oregon State, behind strong inside play by Brandt and sloppy Washington State play, slowly pulled away and were able to up their lead to 10 points at the 9:26 mark with a nice mid-range jumper by Eric Moreland.

Coach Robinson continued to tap into the bench with Challe Barton, Malcolm Duvivier, Daniel Gomis, and Devon Collier getting playing time in the first half (along with Jarmal Reid and Victor Robbins getting some brief on the court time late in the half).  The bench play was not spectacular, but they were able to keep the Cougs off-balance enough on both sides of the ball to sustain the OSU lead throughout the half.   Indeed if it was not for Que Johnson, who scored eight out of WSU's thirteen points in the first 12 minutes of the half the Cougars would have been in worse shape than they were with multiple sloppy turnovers and poorly chosen shots.

Washington State though was just able to keep things close enough in the second part of of the first half, even a Morris-Walker high arching three point jumper that got the Beavs back up by 10 points at the 4:52 mark could not fully put the Cougs away who were led by Johnson's basically one-man game.   Luckily the Beavs have one of the stronger one man players in the conference and Roberto Nelson was able to hit a tough three point field goal from the corner to help semi-quell the Cougars run, and the Beavs were able to go into the halftime break up 33 to 27.  Still though it did look and feel like Oregon State should have built a much larger first half led, but some uninspired end of the half play allowed Washington State to keep things very respectable.

The Beavs were able to go into the halftime break shooting 63% with 4 for 7 in three point field goals and were 5 for 8 from the foul line , and Oregon State also had only 8 rebounds and turned it over 7 times.   Washington State shot 59%, went 0 for 2 in three point field goals and only 1 for 2 in free throws, had 10 rebounds, and turned it over 8 times.  The leading scorers were Roberto Nelson with 12 points and Angus Brandt with 10 points for Oregon State and Que Johnson had 10 points for the WSU Cougars.

The second half started out with OSU exchanging missed open look shots with WSU turnovers in a sloppy start that seemed to benefit the Cougs in terms of pacing, but the scoring drought by both teams was finally broken by a Moreland basket at the 17:43 mark.  This was short-lived comfort for Oregon State as D.J. Shelton answered with a layup and then a rim assisted three point field goal by Shelton cut the OSU lead to three points.

Even when Washington State was able to cut into the lead Oregon State continued to play just good enough to again creep the score up on the Cougs as the second half progressed.   Behind some strong off the bench play by Collier the Beavs got the lead back to double digits to 47 to 36 at the 10 minute mark.   Other off the bench players Olaf Schaftenaar and Challe Barton also got some solid second half playing time.   The Cougars were still able to keep things honest by cutting the lead to six points at the 8:38 mark, but again solid scoring and assist play by Roberto Nelson allowed the Beavs to stretch back up the lead up to 11 points.

Down the final stretch Washington State was a team of dualities, hitting some big shots like the Ike Iroegbu three point jumper to cut the lead to 8 points and D.J. Shelton hitting a three to cut the lead to 7 and then another to cut it later to only 6 points, but at other times the Cougs could not convert on easy layups and wide open perimeter looks.  Oregon State seemed more about either turning it over or taking advantage of getting into the double bonus at the 4:59 mark and hitting their free throws.  Indeed the summary of the last five minutes revolved around Oregon State making just enough of the right plays at the right time to never let Washington State to sustain their runs to make it completely dangerous for the Beavs.

The final stats broke down for the Beavs shooting 53% from the field, converting 5 for 13 three point field goals, hitting 19 for 27 from the foul line, grabbing 26 rebounds, and turning it over 11 times.   On the other side of the ball Washington State shot 50%, was 6 for 14 in three point field goals, hit 1 for 4 free throws, had 24 rebounds, and turned it over 13 times.  Oregon State was led by Roberto Nelson with 26 points and Angus Brandt with 14 points, and Washington State was led by D.J. Shelton with 24 points and Que Johnson with 15 points (who was held to only five points in the second half).

It was not the prettiest of games, but Oregon State was able to grab an early lead and hold on to the win after an emotional win last weekend against the UO, and the Beavers will need to bring much more of their 'A' game against Washington this Saturday.  But at the same time it was an important win to continue the winning momentum in conference play and indeed place the Beavs in a stronger mid-range standing within the Pac-12.

It was the second year in a row Oregon State has won in Pullman, and the Beavs haven't won there 2 years in a row since 1989 & 1990, which were Gary Payton's last 2 seasons at OSU.

The win puts Oregon State at 3 and 3 in conference play and 11 and 7 overall, which is as good of a record as they have posted through 18 games, again, since the 1989-90 season. The Beavs will travel to Seattle to play the Washington Huskies (3 and 3, 11 and 8, UW plays UO tomorrow night) Saturday at 2:00pm.   Washington State drops to 1 and 6 in the Pac and 8 and 11 overall and will host Oregon (1 and 4, 13 and 4) Sunday afternoon.

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